Our opponents, Brazilian side Cruzeiro, needed just a point to take the title, while a win for us would have seen our lads claim the crown in what, despite the competition being run on a merit league table basis, was essentially a tournament final due to results earlier in the week.
Josh Onomah’s equaliser saw the lads recover from going a goal down early on, while Alex McQueen had a late effort ruled out – a goal which, had it stood, would have won us the title.
But after finishing second out of eight teams with Cruzeiro taking top spot, Academy Manager John spoke of his pride at the way the lads performed against some very difficult opponents.
“It ended up 1-1 which on the balance of play was probably a fair result,” he said.
“We feel a little bit disappointed that the goal (Alex’s late effort) didn’t count but these things happen. Cruzeiro were probably as good a side as we’ve played in the last two years.”
We got off to a poor start and conceded in the first minute, but the lads quickly recovered from the set-back with Onomah levelling the scores four minutes later when he drilled home with his left foot from 12 yards.
Cruzeiro continued to put us under pressure for the remainder of the first half and into the second, but we got on the front foot around the hour mark and went in search of a winner.
We were cruelly denied in the dying moments when Onomah’s wide free kick struck the post and the ball fell to McQueen who steered it home, only for his effort to be ruled out for off-side. McQueen’s protests saw him collect his second yellow card of the game, before Connor Ogilvie produced a fine save from the Cruzeiro goalkeeper in stoppage time.
“They played with the breeze in the first half and really scrutinized our resilience,” John reflected. “I thought they were a very powerful, strong, quick, tactically clever team and they really tested us in the first half.
“We had a little bit of luck and some stoic defending saw us go into half-time at 1-1. In the second half with the breeze we gradually got on top of them and from 60 to 90 minutes they were camped in their own half. They made the occasional threat on the counter attack but we had numerous chances.
“After the incident of the disallowed goal their keeper pulled off an excellent save from Connor Ogilvie. It was heart in your mouth stuff at both ends and the crowd really enjoyed it, especially the last 30 minutes.”
John went on to explain how the disappointment at not being able to win the tournament was tempered by the events at Southampton, as two of our Academy graduates shone through in our 3-2 Premier League victory.
“What was nice was the disappointment was sweetened when everyone heard the result from St Mary’s with Danny Rose and Nabil Bentaleb, who have been at these tournaments in the past and experienced the highs and lows with us, both playing their part,” John said.
“Just to put everything in context afterwards we said that these boys here in Florida are sat where the likes of Danny and Nabil were only two or three years ago. It just restored a little bit of hope and puts the game in the context of the bigger picture, which is getting players through to the first team.”
Spurs (v Cruzeiro): McGee, Walker-Peters, Carter-Vickers, A McQueen, Ogilvie, Lesniak (Walkes 78), Winks (Harrison 55), Onomah, Michael-Percil (Sonupe 53), Oduwa (Goddard 90), Miller (Akindayini 73).
We’ll have John McDermott’s thoughts on the overall tournament here on tottenhamhotspur.com tomorrow.